Friday, June 24, 2011

Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women

Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women

In her provocative show Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women, Susan Singer takes on society's version of the "perfect" woman, as exemplified by Mattel's Barbie doll. Singer paints extraordinary female nudes, but not as they appear in the Gospel according to Madison Ave. Instead of fitting the current societal requirements for beauty, Singer's women are as they are: gorgeous precisely because they have the courage to be real. One of her models weighs 270 pounds and shows us just how beautiful she knows she is as she stands proudly before us. Another strides off the stage which is the canvas, wearing her red high heels, compelling us to follow her. Of one woman, all that can be seen is a tangle of arms and legs and belly, glowing from within, leaving us in awe of her radiance. A 91-year-old dancer shares with us the joy she feels at being alive. Birth, aging, pregnancy, middle age, scars, elective surgeries - all these topics and many more are covered on Singer's canvases and in the stories the models have written to accompany each painting. Viewers to her exhibition will leave feeling they have been privy to an intimate glimpse into each of these women's lives. They will come away from this deep, rich experience knowing more of what it is to be female and enriched for having taken the journey.

The Opening for Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women will take place Friday, September 16th from 6:00 – 9:30 PM at Crossroads Art Center at 2016 Staples Mill Road in Richmond. Singer will give a Gallery Talk at 5:30 PM for those interested in learning more about her art, her process, and her self. The show runs through November 7.

Building on the momentum from her show, and wanting to give women ideas for moving beyond Barbie, Singer has organized a series of performances and lectures about issues important to women today: Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today’s Woman. Many of the presenters will be Singer's models because, serendipitously, most of her models are performers or otherwise leaders in their fields. The series will take place Thursday evenings from Sept 22 - Nov 3 from 7 - 9 PM at Crossroads Art Center. It will include the following topics:

• September 22: an evening of exciting dance performances called Strength in Motion: To Speak without Words

• September 29: an interactive evening about body modification called Body of Work: Finding Inspiration in a Canvas of Flesh

• October 6: The Blues: Liberation, Empowerment, and Joy! starring Gaye Adegbalola, a nationally known singer formerly of Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women

• October 13: Through the Fire/ Reclaiming Lost Power After Trauma & Abuse; stories, information, and resources about intimate partner abuse

• October 20: a roundtable discussion and personal stories about eating disorders called Caught in a Funhouse Mirror: The distorted Reflections of Eating Disorders

• October 27: first person stories about birth called Listening to Mothers: Birth As We Know It

• November 3: a evening of literary sharing by gifted Richmond writers called Life in the First Person: Women‘s Stories Uncovered.

These evenings promise to be celebratory, provocative, informative, and, most of all, empowering for all who attend. More information will be available at Crossroads Art Center’s website.  For information about Singer’s artwork, the show Not Barbie, or the performance series, Beyond Barbie, please contact

Susan Singer

For information about the venue, please contact

Jenni Kirby
Crossroads Art Center


  1. I am very much looking forward to dancing in the first night! For dance literally gave me a way to speak without having to use my stuttered words <3

  2. seeing these images made me smile from the inside - thankyou!!!